Missouri Minute: Shareholders OK GateHouse-Gannett deal; Houlihan’s owner files for bankruptcy

Good morning, MBA readers,

It’s been an eventful couple of days for major national newspaper publishers, and readers in Missouri may feel the effects. Shareholders approved GateHouse’s $1.4 billion acquisition of Gannett, creating the country’s largest newspaper company by a wide margin. The combined company will own five newspapers in Missouri, including the Springfield News-Leader and Columbia Daily Tribune. Meanwhile, the nation’s No. 2 newspaper company is tightening its belt again after a dismal quarterly earnings report. McClatchy, the parent company of The Kansas City Star, said it will phase out Saturday print editions across all its properties. Scroll down to get all the day’s business news — about the news business and beyond.

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Stay alert

Shareholders approve GateHouse deal for Gannett
Two of the largest newspaper companies in the U.S. will combine after shareholders approved the $1.4 billion deal. GateHouse owns newspapers in Columbia, Hannibal, Moberly and Rolla, while Gannett owns the Springfield News-Leader. (Associated Press)

Southwest pilots agree to seek out ‘non-Boeing’ alternatives
Southwest Airlines, the largest carrier at Missouri’s two busiest airports, is the leading operator of the Boeing 737 Max, but the head of the airline’s pilots union has suggested Southwest should explore obtaining different aircraft. (Dallas Business Journal)

Parson to outsource economic development effort
Gov. Mike Parson’s lead agency for job development has issued a request for proposals for the creation of a tool to help determine companies’ need for state aid. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Charles forges ahead on Bangert Island development project
Officials will move forward with a plan to develop two dozen acres adjoining Bangert Island on the Missouri River, despite not receiving a federal grant to help the effort. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Settlement reached in Walmart pregnancy discrimination case
A federal judge in the St. Louis area gave initial approval to a $14 million settlement of a lawsuit claiming Walmart discriminated against pregnant workers, including an East St. Louis woman. The settlement could mean weeks of pay for thousands of workers denied light duty or other accommodations while pregnant. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Kanas City Star to eliminate Saturday print edition
McClatchy, the newspaper’s parent company, said all of its Saturday editions will go digital by 2020, and that Friday and Sunday print editions will be enhanced. McClatchy lost $305 million in the third quarter. (KCUR)

Franklin County considering change to accommodate more CAFOs
Franklin County is mulling zoning changes that would allow concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to be built in areas where they have not been allowed before. Some residents are worried about pollution and animal waste from the large-scale operations. (St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri withholds Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood
Since mid-2018, Missouri has withheld more than $1 million in Medicaid payments for cancer screenings, STD tests and birth control provided by Planned Parenthood clinics. Hearings regarding these withholdings for the upcoming year are scheduled for early December. (Kansas City Star)

Say that again

“The Fed has made a major move in 2019 and it makes sense to wait and see how the economy responds during the fourth quarter and into 2020.”

That’s James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, who on Thursday said he is ready to keep the Fed’s benchmark rate steady, for now, Reuters reports. Bullard, who has led the charge within the Fed for consecutive rate cuts this year, argued that the Federal Open Market Committee’s decisions helped provide “more accommodation to the economy.” The yield curve returning to a “more normal, positive slope” could be a bullish sign for 2020, Bullard said.

Go figure


That’s where Missouri ranks nationally for number of licensed firearm dealers, the Columbia Missourian reports. Both distributors and industry groups agree that Missouri is one of the hottest markets for guns. Gun-friendly laws are cited as one reason for that. Unlike Illinois, for instance, Missouri allows people to buy a firearm and take it home the same day. “Things like that make Missouri a good place for consumers and retailers,” said Larry Wayland, who runs the Columbia gun shop Modern Arms.

Hello, my name is

Houlihan’s Restaurants

The owner of this restaurant chain, HRI Holding Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Thursday, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The Leawood, Kansas-based company has also agreed to sell off “substantially all of (its) assets.” A Debtwire report earlier this year highlighted year-over-year decline in sales at HRI and a $50 million debt that matures next year. The company owns and operates 47 restaurants in 14 states, including five in Missouri. It reported nearly $77 million in outstanding liabilities and $79.8 million in assets.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning. Have an excellent weekend.


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